Breaking Down What Goes Into A Productive Meeting
Have you ever checked your phone in a meeting? I sure have, and believe me, usually I check it for the time. Lately, I’ve noticed that meeting rooms don’t display clocks anymore. Maybe it’s so you can remain dialed into the topic at hand instead of watching the clock like a grade student waiting for eighth period to end.
If you’re worried about the time because you’re bored or have a hard stop, then the meeting you’re in may not be that important. At least to you anyway.
After 10+ years of working in the sports & entertainment industry I’ve yet to to experience the following:
- A productive recurring meeting
- A recurring meetings with expectations (agenda), presented before the meeting and an action plan afterwards
- A recurring meeting that starts on time and last less than 15-minutes
A meeting without the points presented above turns into a justify your job meeting. These meetings are the worse type of meeting because everyone is saying the same thing:
“I’m doing X this week and looking to do Y next week so please don’t fire me”
Attending meeting throughout the week already kills productivity so having a “justify your job” meeting only add insult to injury. This is why I’ve been a fan of the 15-minute meeting structure.
I was first introduced to this concept by my mentor when I was 26 years old and found it to be effective when I lead my meetings. If you ever have the opportunity to lead your own meeting, I highly recommend the following steps so you can keep your meeting on time and task (in other words productive).
Before The Meeting
Anytime you have to conduct a meeting it’s important to set an expectation before everyone arrives. Setting expectations is probably the hardest thing to do because you don’t want to come across as bossy. Trust me, conducting a meeting with no expectations will cause you to waste people’s time. Remember, taking someone’s time is the most offensive thing you can do to anyone because you can’t get time back.
In order to set an expectation for your meeting you could send a simple email like this one here:
Our meeting is coming up. If you’re unable to attend please let me know. If you are then please have your requests ready to present along with supporting materials if needed.
The message above would be sent if I was conducting a meeting as a service provider and the purpose of the meeting was to gather projects from attendees.
A message like the one above may be perceived as rude. If you are the type that see it as rude then you may be the type that don’t like to attend meeting with high expectations.
First Three Minutes
The first three minutes of your meeting are the most important because they set the tone. If you can’t get through the first three minutes of your meeting smoothly then you may end up running over. During the first three minutes you should be prepared to accomplish the following:
- Introduce yourself to everyone (only for the first meeting, following meetings won’t require and introduction unless there is a new face)
- Introduce the purpose of your meeting
- Re-introduce the agenda/expectations for the meeting
You can accomplish these tasks with the following statement at the beginning of your meeting:
Hello everyone, my name is [your name goes here] and I’m the [title goes here]. At this time we will [purpose of the meeting goes here]. If you take a look of the agenda you should expect [expectations goes here].
The longest 10 minutes of your life
Once you get your introduction down, it’s time to work your way through your agenda. Try to stay focus here because any signs of weakness during this time will slow you down. Weaknesses like using filler words or not remaining engaged may result in loss of interest from your attendees.
Here are some points to to help you with your agenda:
- Put your phone in airplane mode and place it in your pocket
- DO NOT take notes on a electronic device, use a pen and paper
- If you use filler words, practice your agenda before the meeting
Final Two Minutes
Your last moments should be spent on conducting a recap. Your recap will allow everyone in attendance to get an understanding of how you interpreted all the information presented at your meeting. During these last two minutes make sure you’re clear in your speech and don’t get so comfortable that you start to paraphrase what’s been discussed. Paraphrasing communicates to attendees that you don’t think what they’ve said is important enough to give it a full sentence.
Instead of paraphrasing during your recap I would suggest the following:
- DON’T SAY “I’m paraphrasing here…”
- Present your summary in bullet points
Do You Want More?
If you would like to see example of other companies using the 15-minute meeting structure then I encourage you to click here. You will find companies who not only condense their meetings to 15-minutes but add a few changes that fit their company’s culture.